Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Crown and Cushion at Minley Review

I don’t get to go out for dinner a huge amount, but when we have a birthday in our family (which is a fair bit with so many of us!) we like to celebrate by all going out for a meal together. We’ve been to various places over the years, but for some reason had never visited The Crown and Cushion pub in Minley, despite living nearby. So, back in March, we decided to book a table to celebrate my brother and sister’s birthdays (they’re within two weeks of each other) with an evening meal there. We have actually since been back again more recently as we liked it so much, so I thought I would tell you a bit about it in case you’re nearby and fancy checking it out!

The pub dates back to around 1512 and was converted into an Ale House in 1596. Alongside the pub lies Meade Hall, which was built from the remains of two old barns from the Salisbury area. Some of the timbers in the barn’s structure are said to have come from ships defeated in the Spanish Armada, so there’s plenty of history to take in! Some believe that both Meade Hall and the pub are now haunted, and many local people have seen spirits over the years (although apparently they are friendly!) 

You enter into a traditional and cosy part of the pub, with discrete corners warmed by candles and gentle lighting. As you continue through though, you move from the typical pub layout into a larger dining area, which is light, airy and modern but still full of character. This is where we were seated for our meal, and despite it not looking as cosy as the pub areas, there was still a relaxed but lively atmosphere. 

As we were served our drinks, we had a chance to browse through the extensive menu. I was really impressed with the choice on their main menu, as well as a specials board that regularly changes and a comprehensive vegan menu. If you’re into your gins, they also have a huge selection to choose from, along with a variety of different tonic waters. Our orders were soon taken, and we sat chatting while we waited for our starters. 

I don’t tend to get a proper starter most of the time, but when I saw that they had Hot Garlic & Herb Dough Balls with garlic butter dip on the menu, I knew I needed to find someone to share them with! You can either get eight or sixteen (we went for eight) and they were the perfect thing to nibble on while we waited for our main meals. I didn’t find the dough too heavy, and the garlic butter was perfect for dipping the dough balls in. I could have happily eaten more if I didn’t have a main meal coming!

A few other people had starters too, including my Dad, who went for the Fresh Prawn & Crayfish Cocktail & Marie Rose sauce. I didn’t taste it, but from the reaction of my Dad, it sounds like it was equally as good as the dough balls.

Unfortunately, the first time we visited, the service was quite slow, so we ended up waiting quite a while for our mains to arrive (thankfully the second time we went, the service was a lot better, so they must have been having a bad night). But our main course was definitely worth waiting for. I had chosen the Mushroom & Herb Risotto with rocket and Parmesan, as risotto is one of my absolute favourites. You could add chicken if you wanted to, but I kept it as it was. It was such a good risotto – probably one of the best I’ve had (so good, that I ended up ordering it again when we went back recently!) The rice and mushrooms were creamy and flavoursome and the rocket gave a nice crunch, adding a slightly different texture to the dish. I couldn’t quite manage it all, as it was so filling, but it wasn’t for want of trying – it was so tasty!

One of my siblings opted for the 8oz Sirloin Steak with slow-roast tomato, field mushroom and chunky chips. The steak was melt in the mouth and really tender, and the chunky chips were crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy in the middle – just as they should be! My brother Richard went for Cumberland Sausages, creamy mashed potato and onion gravy – as the waiter brought them to our table you could hear everyone saying ‘wow’ because of how big the sausages were! But it didn’t take long for my brother to polish them off, and he seemed to really enjoy the creamy mash (my favourite!) with the onion gravy.

No meal out is complete without a bit of pudding (who else makes sure they save a bit of room for pudding at the end?!) so after a bit of a wait, our desserts were brought to our table. I didn’t have much room left after devouring my risotto, so chose a fairly light option of Jude’s Blood Orange Sorbet. I love Jude’s Ice Creams anyway, but had never tried their sorbet, so was excited to see what it was like. It came beautifully presented and was the perfect refreshing way to end my meal.

My brother David went for something a little more indulgent (and chocolatey!) – the Chocolate Cookie Sundae with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, fresh baked cookie and ‘pour your own’ hot chocolate fudge sauce. It certainly looked incredible and didn’t last long once it was put in front of David!

Last but not least, my sister, Rosiie, chose the dessert off the specials menu – a Strawberry Eton mess sundae with ice cream, coulis, meringue, white chocolate chips and grilled white chocolate. It looked very pretty and summery when it arrived, and Rosiie said it was light, refreshing and very fruity – just what you want on a warm spring evening (plus you can convince yourself you’re being healthy because it has fruit in it!) 

Overall, we all had a lovely celebration meal at The Crown and Cushion, so much so that we’ve already been back and plan to go again soon! Apart from the slow service the first time we went, the staff were attentive and friendly and made us feel really welcome. The food was incredibly delicious and we were all really impressed with the amount of choice there was. As the pub is only a few miles from our house, we will definitely be paying it more regular visits in the future and look forward to trying some other dishes from the menus.

Have you had a meal at The Crown and Cushion if you live nearby? Are there any other restaurants you would like to see me review?

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